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Faith in non-orthodox circles

Reader comment on item: The Orthodox Future of Judaism

Submitted by Ben Siscovick (United States), Jan 25, 2005 at 13:46

Dr. Pipes:

I very much enjoyed reading this article. However, I do not believe that I fully agree with one of the tangential comments made in this piece. In particular, I believe that you claim that the emerging non-orthodox Jewish factions diminished the role of faith, thus causing a reduction in Jewish affiliation.

While I cannot argue with the bottom line reduction in Jewish affiliation of non-Orthodox groups, I am not convinced that this is solely the result of a reduction in faith, nor to I believe that all non-Orthodox groups de-emphasized religious faith. I would like to posit that certain non-Orthodox groups, while maintaining an emphasis on religious faith (in one form or another), diminished the role of legal ("halachik) observance; this weakened role of legal observance was the primary driver subsequently causing the reduction in Jewish affiliation.

It is my contention that for certain non-Orthodox groups (e.g. Conservative movement) faith is certainly a fundamental component of their religious purview. Unlike the more Orthodox dogmatic relationship to faith, these non-Orthodox movements refocused the role of faith emphasizing each person's individuality and their unique faith encounter. With this said, there are certain non-Orthodox movements that have severely reduced the role of faith, in some situations eliminating it all together from the "cultural" experience of Judaism.

I would be curious to hear your response to the issues that I have raised.

Thank you!


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